Tag Archives: malema

South Africa – is Zuma finally off the hook over Nkandla

Mail and Guardian

While a new cast of characters have the painful task of figuring out how to further secure Zuma’s rural home, the heat is off the president – for now.

Parliament's ad hoc committee has recommended that further steps be taken to ensure Jacob Zuma's safety at Nkandla. (David Harrison, M&G)

A new security assessment of President Jacob Zuma’s rural Nkandla home is in the works, an assessment various institutions agree will in all likelihood find a need for further work to be done to complete, or supplement, over R200-million worth of upgrades already effected.

Parliament, meanwhile, will in coming weeks finalise its current investigation into Nkandla, with no adverse finding whatsoever against Zuma himself.

The opposition Economic Freedom Fighters asked the Constitutional Court to give Zuma lessons in his constitutional obligations, and marching orders on Nkandla, an application that shows little promise of resulting in a hearing.

And despite rumblings from particularly the ANC in Gauteng earlier this year on Zuma’s handling of the Nkandla saga, those noises appear to have been hushed for at least the time being.

So though former ministers, government officials and an architect still face trouble on Nkandla, Zuma himself appears – at least for now – to be off the hook.

Why more steps?
In its final report on Nkandla tabled for consideration last Friday, Parliament’s latest ad hoc committee on the matter recommended “that the executive ensures that all necessary steps are taken to ensure the safety of the head of state and his family is not compromised”.

Why would more steps be required, almost six years into a massive security overhaul?

“Most of the work is incomplete especially those [sic] that relate to security monitoring of the president’s private residence. Consequently, it is clear that the current security arrangements are insufficient and incomplete,” the committee told the national assembly.


The Democratic Alliance’s Mmusi Maimane questions President Jacob Zuma about expenditure, apparently on security measures for his home in Nkandla. (Photos: David Harrison, M&G)

Various MPs expressed shock that a closed circuit TV system supposedly at Nkandla was not operational when they visited the complex.

The committee is not the first group to assert that Zuma is still not sufficiently secure at Nkandla. Almost exactly a year ago the Special Investigating Unit formally recommended another security review of Nkandla “as soon as possible”, and “noted a number of matters of concern” on security there, although in the name of security it would not disclose specifics.

New assessment
Police ministry spokesperson Musa Zondi this week confirmed plans for a new assessment, but said there were no timelines for the process yet as it would depend on discussions with the department of public works.

The department of public works did not respond to questions.

Nkandla has been the subject of four major security assessments and evaluations since 1999 involving either the South African Police Service and South African Defence Force, or both.

Just how more work on Nkandla can be structured to be legal and in compliance with regulations, who will be willing to do the work and who will take responsibility for such a task are all thorny questions complicated by years of investigations.

Nkandla was declared a national key point in 2010. In terms of legislation governing such points, dating from 1980, work necessary to secure a key point must be funded by the owner of the property or from a special government account set up for that purpose. But in an inter-ministerial report on Nkandla released in December 2013, ministers of the security cluster found that complying with that law would be in conflict with the Public Finance Management Act, a modern law that institutes strict controls on the spending of state money, and leaves little room for special accounts.

Cabinet memo
The security cluster ministers also found upgrades at Nkandla should have been governed by a 2003 Cabinet memo, which requires the president to sign off on security measures to be implemented at his private residence, after those measures are determined by the police and costed by the department of public works.

The Nkandla infrastructure should have been subject to an “immovable asset management plan”, the ministers said, which would quantify ongoing maintenance costs (to which no number has yet been put in various investigations), and the capital costs should be apportioned to “the relevant stakeholders”, signalling potential trouble as the SAPS and defence force argues over who requested and should pay for what.


Parliament’s ad hoc committee, chaired by Cedric Frolick, said earlier that the president did not have to pay back the money already spent on his KwaZulu-Natal home.

The individual functionaries, who will have to implement those steps for a new security assessment, will no doubt be mindful of the fact that a dozen department of public works employees involved in previous Nkandla work are being held personally responsible for failing to follow various rules and prescripts.

Two former ministers, who were ultimately responsible for those functionaries, still face censure.

The project leader for a new assessment will also be aware that the previous project leader, architect Minenhle Makhanya, is being held personally liable for R155-million of state money spent on Nkandla in a continuing matter before the high court in Pietermaritzburg.

Subsequent scrutiny
Various companies and contractors who did work on Nkandla found themselves accused of fraud, poor workmanship, and fleecing the public purse during subsequent scrutiny.

When Police Minister Nathi Nhleko suggested in July that more money would have to be spent on Nkandla, ANC secretary general Gwede Mantashe characterised it as “reckless” in its timing.

These issues will face a set of ministers and technocrats different from those who dealt with Nkandla between 2009 and 2012, but will not be Zuma’s direct responsibility. The only responsibility he will face in the renewed security assessment and its implementation, according to the findings of the various investigations to date, is to assume ethical responsibility for the effective application of state funds. Demanding as much from those intimately involved, and holding them accountable should they fail, will likely satisfy that requirement.

That represents only a temporary reprieve for Zuma, however.

In mid-June, chairperson of the ANC in Gauteng, Paul Mashatile, sought to distance the party from Nhleko’s report, which formed the basis of the parliamentary ad hoc committee’s findings, and the suggestion that more money would have to be spent on Nkandla.

Not the position of the ANC
That was not the position of the ANC, Mashatile said. He was subsequently backed by the party in the province.

Well-informed speculation at the time spoke of a possibility that the ANC would be asked to consider requiring Zuma to pay personally for any new work. Such speculation died down in the two months since, but insiders this week suggested the plan was not yet entirely dead.

Zuma also faces the prospect of a newly empowered public protector demanding, again, that he repay the state for some of the personal benefit he has derived from the Nkandla project. In September the Supreme Court of Appeal will hear a different matter, which has been brought by the Democratic Alliance, that has the potential of declaring Madonsela’s findings to be binding.

And should the Special Investigating Unit’s R155-million claim against architect Makanya fail, the unit has the option of trying to recover the money from those unduly enriched – a group it found to include Zuma himself. – With additional reporting by Qaanitah Hunter and Matuma Letsoalo


EFF goes for the constitutional jugular

The Economic Freedom Fighters do not have a particularly good chance of being heard on Nkandla before the Constitutional Court, but nonetheless in court papers it took the opportunity to express its intense displeasure with Parliament, the speaker Baleka Mbete and President Jacob Zuma.

On August 4, the party finalised papers asking the court to declare that both Parliament and Zuma, in their handling of issues related to Nkandla, had failed their respective duties to uphold the Constitution. That was several days before Parliament’s ad hoc committee on Nkandla tabled its report, and well before Zuma appeared in Parliament to answer, among others, an EFF question about Nkandla – but only one day after public protector Thuli Madonsela said it was up to those who thought her office required protection to do the protecting.

The EFF told the court in its notice of motion that Zuma should be forced to give effect to Madonsela’s recommendations, and the court should declare that Zuma’s failure to do so, and Parliament’s failure to force him to do so, was a failure of their constitutional obligations.

The court accepts direct applications under only exceptional circumstances and at its own discretion. This week, experts said Parliament had not yet formally adopted the ad hoc committee report, which would conclude its Nkandla investigation; the Nkandla matter would be heavily influenced by a Supreme Court of Appeal hearing in September, which itself is likely to be taken on appeal to the Constitutional Court; and that the EFF would be hard-pressed to explain why the Nkandla matter was urgent.


Unhappy: EFF leader Julius Malema.

The experts all agreed that the EFF’s chances of securing a hearing were slim. But the application itself gave EFF leader Julius Malema the opportunity to promise Zuma the party would see him in court – and it gave the party a fresh platform to express unhappiness with not only Zuma but also Mbete. The EFF deputy president, Floyd Shivambu, said in a supporting affidavit Zuma had violated the Constitution, committed a serious constitutional breach, and had undermined the independence and effectiveness of the public protector.

Shivambu said Mbete, though only cited nominally as a respondent to represent the National Assembly, was required to act impartially in her role.

“The experience of the EFF with the current speaker has been that she is not impartial, is prone to procedural lapses, and openly hostile to the EFF.”

To date, the Democratic Alliance has been the party leading the various legal threats and challenges on Nkandla, but it said this week it would not join the EFF in its approach to the court.

The DA’s James Selfe said the party would wait for a determination in its Supreme Court of Appeal case, which is seeking clarity on the public protector’s powers in the matter regarding the SABC’s chief operating officer, Hlaudi Motsoeneng. It is scheduled to be heard in Bloemfontein on September 18.

If the protector’s findings are found to be binding, Selfe said, that would enable a demand for the implementation of her findings on Nkandla.

“The issue regarding Nkandla and Hlaudi Motsoeneng are very similar, except in the matter of Hlaudi Motsoeneng the remedial action recommended by the public protector is very precise,” Selfe said. – Phillip de Wet and Qaanitah Hunter


When Parliament rewrote history

The latest ad hoc committee on Nkandla last week tabled its report for consideration by the National Assembly, with every sign that the report will be adopted by Parliament as a whole – despite the fact that it contains several blatant and critical factual inaccuracies.

In several instances the committee (officially titled “Ad hoc committee to consider the report of the minister of police in reply to recommendations in the report of the ad hoc committee to consider the report by the president regarding security upgrades at the Nkandla Private Residence of the president”) accepted assertions by Police Minister Nathi Nhleko that are flatly contradicted by documents.

Facts accepted by the committee, with its stamp of approval either directly or tacitly, include that:

  • Nhleko could find zero evidence that President Jacob Zuma had “requested anything to be constructed” in his perusal of “all reports related to” Nkandla. In her March 2014 report on Nkandla, public protector Thuli Madonsela relates that Zuma personally told her he had “requested the building of a larger kraal”;
  • The figure of R246-million spent on Nkandla was a cost estimate “by the media and opposition parties”. The R246-million number actually came from Madonsela’s report, in which she “conservatively estimated” that to be what would be required from state coffers before the project is completed, based on work that still had to be done at the time. The actual number (incorrectly rounded down instead of up by Madonsela herself) is R246 631 303.04;
  • Implicitly, the only “alleged non-security features” at Nkandla are the swimming pool, animal enclosures and a social node. The Special Investigating Unit, in a report on an investigation commissioned by Zuma, pointed to roads built for the sole use of the Zuma family, air conditioning installed in family residences, and extensive landscaping around the private residences; and
  • Nhleko’s status as a Cabinet minister does not oblige him to “make favourable judgments towards the president” because the president also appoints people such as judges to their positions.

The committee apparently did not notice that it requires a two-thirds majority of the National Assembly to remove the likes of a judge (and similar presidential appointees) from office, whereas a Cabinet minister serves at the absolute pleasure of the president and is specifically denied any security of tenure.

Consideration of the report by the National Assembly was yet to be scheduled as the Mail & Guardian went to print, but was expected before the end of August.

Both the DA and the EFF were expected to vote against its adoption, as are the African Christian Democratic Party and Freedom Front Plus, but the vote would be easily carried by the ANC, which has welcomed the report as tabled. – Phillip de Wet


South Africa – Malema says he will see Zuma in court

News24

  
“Let’s meet you in court,” said Economic Freedom Fighters leader Julius Malema at the close of this afternoon’s question-and-answer session with President Jacob Zuma in Parliament. 
Malema got the last word after Zuma, who was asked when he was going to pay back the money for Nkandla, referred to the parliamentary process that is currently under way. 
Although speaker Baleka Mbete had not “recognised Malema”, he stood up and said: “It is very clear that we are never going to get an answer. Let’s meet in court.” 
In his reply, Zuma also answered that the Public Protector’s report had stated that he should instruct the minister of police to determine how much he should pay back for “security upgrades” at his home in Nkandla. 
This was despite the Public Protector, Advocate Thuli Madonsela, pointing out last week that her report did not say this. 
Democratic Alliance leader Mmusi Maimane corrected Zuma, saying that Madonsela’s report required him to determine, with the treasury’s assistance, how much he should pay back. 
The sitting took place with members of the controversial Parliamentary Protection Services standing guard outside the doors of the National Assembly. A DA member commented that he recornised two of the new recruits – former SAPS members – mostly dressed in white shirts and black pants, from a previous sitting of the house, when the EFF MPs were forcibly removed. 
After Malema asked his question and Zuma said that the parliamentary investigation was still under way, EFF members repeatedly rose for points of order even though Mbete had not recognised them. 
Opposition MPs – especially United Democratic Movement MPs, whose leader Bantu Holomisa was unable to speak due to the constant interjections – became visibly fed up with the EFF’s behaviour.

South Africa – Malema charges struck off roll without being answered because of delays

Mail and Guardian

The case against Julius Malema may have been struck off the roll, but the charges remain unanswered.

Julius Malema, on his farm. (Gallo)

News analysis

Julius Malema is free to go, for now. On Tuesday, judge Billy Mothle struck Malema’s criminal case from the roll, but this does not mean that Malema is innocent.

On Monday, Malema’s co-accused, businessman Kagisho Dichabe, did not appear in court, apparently because he was ill.

This presented the court with a dilemma:  to postpone the case again, which could potentially be prejudicial to Malema and his co-accused, or to separate Dichabe’s case from the case against the other two, and to proceed with the trial of Malema and co-accused Lesiba Gwangwa this week

But the state did not apply for a separation of the two cases, and the court has no power to order that the cases be separated without an application, said Mothle. He indicated that if he had such power, he “would have exercised it”.

Mothle explained that the case had been frequently  postponed since 2013, and most of these postponements were requests from the state.

“The state’s actions have now caught up with us,” he said.

He decried the fact that the accused had the charges hanging over their heads for two years, and said any further postponements would be unfair to them.

The prosecution can however recharge Malema, Dichabe and Gwangwa. They have not pleaded to the case against them, and there has been no ruling on their guilt or innocence.

National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) spokesperson Luvuyo Mfaku told journalists outside court on Monday that the indictment against them contains four charges: money laundering, fraud, corruption and racketeering. There are 54 counts between the three accused.

The case against Malema
Malema has repeatedly claimed innocence, and has said that he did not “steal anything”. That is not quite the state’s case against him.

His role in what the state alleges was a tender-rigging scam, was that of the receiver of ill-gotten goods. These “goods”, worth more than R4-million, would eventually help him to purchase his farm, which the South African Revenue Service later confiscated.

The allegation is that payments which were the proceeds of corrupt or fraudulent activity made their way to Malema’s pocket. These “proceeds” were acquired through the alleged corrupt tendering activities of Malema’s business associates, Gwangwa and Dichabe. These men tendered for the contract which would eventually make them a lot of money – over R40-million in the end – which much of this finding its way into Malema’s hands, alleges the state.

And while he might not have had a direct hand in that fraudulent activity, the state alleges that Malema knew that the money came from dodgy dealings, or ought reasonably have known about it, and thus benefitted from corruption.

Constitutional law expert Pierre de Vos surmised what the state must prove, in a piece published on the Daily Maverick: “The state would have to show that at least some of the 16 payments made to the Ratanang Trust (payments which add up to just over R4.5-million) were the proceeds of unlawful activity and that Malema knew this or ought reasonably to have known this. If they can show that even one of these payments came from unlawful activities and that Malema ought reasonably to have known this, they would have secured a conviction.”

In 2011, the Mail & Guardian reported that Malema’s Ratangang Family Trust, which he founded, held shares in a company called On-Point Engineering. The department of Roads in Limpopo had, in 2009, established a programme management unit (PMU) to oversee, among other things, its road works responsibilities.

On-Point was awarded the contract to manage the unit on behalf of the department for three years. The contract was worth R52-million.

According to the initial draft charge sheet that the National Prosecuting Authority presented to court in 2013, On-Point was only registered in 2009, a month before it bid for the PMU contract. But in its bid submission, it said it had nine years’ experience.

On-Point also submitted a tax clearance certificate as part of the bid, but the certificate actually belonged to a shelf company.

The charge sheet says that there is a “clear business relationship” between Malema and Gwangwa, their companies and entities.

It also says that Malema’s Ratanang Trust owns 50% of a company called Guilder Investments, which in term owns 33.3% of On-Point Engineering, making Malema an indirect shareholder.

It also says that there is no evidence that On-Point had any experience in running PMUs, as it stated on its bid documentation.

Nevertheless, On-Point won the contract, and also entered into an agreement with the department to provide drawings and designs of the projects that it would later manage, at an additional R8-million.

On-Point then entered into “secret agreements” with various companies, which were to be service providers, who were supposed to provide engineering services for eight construction projects, alleges the state.

The charge sheet alleges that the payments received by these companies from these “secret agreements” were channelled through yet more companies, to pay for the farm which Malema’s trust was buying, for almost R4-million.

Malema previously told the M&G that he did not have anything to do with the day-to-day running of the Ratanang Trust, of which his son is apparently the only beneficiary.

“I do not know what happens at On Point,” he said. “I just queue when the dividends are due. And not me, the trust does that.”


South Africa – Malema defiant after more disruption in parliament

‘We are scared of nothing,’ says a defiant Malema after Parly chaos  
Alicestine October, Media24 Parliamentary Bureau –
ANC laments ‘attack on democracy’

ANC, DA slam EFF outbursts in Parliament

Parliament beats Jerry Springer hands down

Cape Town – We are determined and unbowed! 


This was the message from the Economic Freedom Fighters after another disruption in Parliament on Thursday.


After Parliament was hastily adjourned amid the chaos, EFF leader Julius Malema said the party’s members of Parliament were not afraid of the consequences of their behaviour. 


“We are scared of nothing. We have been punished for the principles that we stand for, so we are no longer afraid. We are fighting to protect our Constitution. We fight for the office of the Public Protector. If we give up on Nkandla and let the issue die, bury us with the office of the Public Protector[ Thuli Madonsela].” 


Malema also equated the party’s hammering on of the Nkandla issue to the struggle against apartheid. 


“It doesn’t matter if people say that we sound like a stuck record. People spoke about apartheid from 1948 until the system fell in 1991 because they were determined. We are determined.” 


He said the EFF would not allow the Constitution to be stomped on right under their noses. 


ANC chief whip Stone Sizani said Parliament’s structures should be used against the EFF MPs who disrupted Thursday sitting. 


The ANC was ensuring that Parliament was being paralysed, said Cope leader Mosiuoa Lekota after the speaker suspended the session. 


He said his party was “shocked by the stupidity of the ANC on the Nkandla saga”. 


“The more ANC MPs plot to protect the morally defective President about the scandalous spending at his private residence, the more damage they do to their own integrity and the state of Parliament,” Lekota said in a statement. 


Before the session was adjourned, Lekota stood next to Zuma and looked as though he was pleading with him. Also in his statement Lekota said the ruling party had abused parliamentary rules and violated international protocol. 


“This has made a mockery of the proud and dignified Parliament of Nelson Mandela. If the president upheld the law, obeyed the Constitution and maintained high moral standards, others would do so too.”


South Africa – Malema says SARS sequestration retreat a victory for democracy

Mail and Guardian

ulius Malema believes that the decision to withdraw a sequestration application against him is a victory for South Africa’s constitutional democracy.

Julius Malema's tax woes appear to be over. (Getty Images)

“When the court makes a ruling, I will accept it even if I lose … If I am sequestrated I will leave Parliament and be the full-time president of the EFF.”

This is what Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) leader Julius Malema told hundreds of his supporters outside the North Gauteng High Court in Pretoria on Monday during a lunch break of a court application for his sequestration.

He was willing to accept defeat if the court had to rule in favour of his sequestration.    Then moments later, as EFF leaders and journalists filled back into the courtroom for the resumption of the court sitting, lawyers for the South African Revenue Service (Sars) and those representing Malema rushed out of court.

Case Withdrawn
They returned soon thereafter, and all lawyers besides the advocate representing Sars, Nic Maritz, took their seats after Judge Gregory Wright entered courtroom GD. Maritz spoke softly and briskly. He has been advised by his client, Sars, to withdraw the case to have Malema sequestrated. Maritz did not give any reasons for the backtracking, only citing “the sensitivity of the case”. And like that, Malema’s sequestration woes were over and the pursuit by Sars to have him declared insolvent because of a staggering tax bill for the last two years had come to an end.

“Some moments ago, I warned you that the Sars representatives have run out of breath and do not know what to say,” Malema told a jubilant crowd. He said this was not a victory for his party or himself, but a victory for the constitutional democracy that is South Africa.

Earlier, Maritz argued that Sars wanted the EFF leader sequestrated and the compromise deal it had with Malema was not longer on the cards. In May last year, The North Gauteng High Court postponed the sequestration matter to August 25 after an agreement was entered into between Malema and the Sars.

Conditional Compromise
Maritz, for Sars, then told the court the two parties had entered into a conditional compromise agreement.

As per the agreement Malema initially owed Sars R18-million, but this was brought down to R7.2-million as per the compromise. The provisional sequestration was then extended to December and again until April this year.

Maritz however, told the court on Monday that Malama was not honest about the source he used to settle his debt. Sars further told the court that besides the initial R18-million Malema owed, he now owes an additional R13.5- million for the 2011 and 2012 tax year.

Maritz argued that once Malema was sequestrated Sars would be able to recover the outstanding tax bill that Malema owes.But soon after this submission was made to the court, Martiz made a u-turn in his argument simply saying that they no longer sought sequestration.

ANC puppets
Speaking outside court, Malema said this was a victory for democracy. “If there was a case against us they would have long arrested us,” he said. Malema pleaded to the Sars leadership not to be used as a political tool by the ANC government. At the same time, Malema chastised his supporters who called for the fall of Sars.

EFF supporters wore T-shirts with the words “#SarsMustFall” and held banners saying Sars has become a tool for politicians. “We are going to need this Sars and therefore don’t destroy the institutions you have built which could also contribute to the sustainability of our democracy,” Malema said. Interestingly, contrary to statements he previously made, Malema maintained that the judiciary was the only remaining independent arm of government.

In previous court stints, Malema claimed that the courts was used by the ruling ANC against him. This time, he was more confident in the judiciary but accused Sars of being controlled by the ANC.

“This confirms once more that our judiciary is independent from the ANC. And the judiciary is not prepared to play a role in destroying political opponents of the ruling party,” Malema told his supporters. While his tax woes may be over, Malema is still expected to appear in the Polokwane High Court in August on charges of fraud and corruption.


South Africa – EFF’s Malema at anti-xenophobia rally; shots fired from hostel

Daily Maverick

Gunshots and Gogos: The EFF rallies against xenophobia in Alexandra

  • Richard Poplak
IMG_1443-MAIN-photo.jpg

On Tuesday Julius Malema’s Economic Freedom Fighters visited the Johannesburg township of Alexandra for an anti-xenophobia rally. Slogans were yelled. Shots rang out. Where is this all getting us? By RICHARD POPLAK.

It is now day whatever of the re-upped South African xenophobia phantasmagoria, the day after the publication of James Oatway’s photographs of the slaying of a Mozambican national named Emmanuel Sithole, the day during which everyone’s favourite colonial construct—the R63-million-a-year “traditional leader” hood ornament that is King Goodwill Zwelithini—blamed both a third force and the media for misquoting the anti-foreigner rant that kick-started this whole nightmare. Across this nation, anti-xenophobia rallies competed with pro-xenophobia utterances in a cycle that shows no signs of winding down. On the one hand, a South Africa that is deeply horrified by its own unfathomable hatred. On the other hand, a South Africa that remains determined to purge itself of anyone who isn’t from here—whatever “here” means on a continent rendered incomprehensible by pretend borders drafted in nineteenth-century Germany.

On Monday the King spoke at an imbizo at Durban’s Moses Mabhida stadium, while prominent ANC hacks looked on and nodded sagely. “If indeed I have called you to arms this country will be in ashes as we speak,” said the King. “But I’m saying let’s arm for peace‚ now I’m instigating you to mobilise for peace.” No prominent political figure has had the balls to heel Zwelithini, mostly because he comes bearing votes, and to denounce him would be suicide at the polls. That may be. But it renders the world out there a strange one, full of half-steps and juddering attempts to denounce chauvinism while ensuring that one of the more obvious hangovers of colonial Divide et impera gets to speak to stadiums populated by bussed-in extras—most of whom made it abundantly clear that they agreed with the King’s “misquoted” sentiments, and not with his attempts to render them anodyne.

Meanwhile, in the townships of Johannesburg, where complicated communities of actual human beings—Africans from all over Africa, who live amongst each other, teach each other, serve each other, feed each other, love each other, rob each other, help each other—were used as props in a narrative that has become increasingly surreal. Alexandra, the famed township in which so much struggle Sturm und Drang was set, remains a theatre for this sort of thing. Its crumbling brick hostel, which garrisoned Zulus during the Apartheid years, has seen better days—and its best days were bad days. During last year’s election, it disgorged hundreds of men who claimed that the Independent Election Commission had fudged the counting of a ballot box in favour of the ANC. They rioted in the streets, and in came Nyalas, choppers, patrol cars, bulletproof trucks of no known provenance, police, the army, a phalanx of men and women armed to the teeth and ready to kill in order to save the illusory dignity of our illusory democracy.

On Tuesday afternoon, however, Alexandra was just Alexandra, a stage for an Economic Freedom Fighters anti-xenophobia rally that would be addressed by Commander in Chief Julius Malema himself. Unlike President Zuma, Malema appears genuinely upset by the bulk murder of black Africans on local soil. The plan, as I understood it, was to stage the rally and speech at the Alexandra women’s hostel, a dismal living memory of the Apartheid years that should’ve been razed to the ground in 1994.

Nonetheless, there it stood, and there we stood at roughly 16h00, waiting for the CiC and his entourage to show up and address the gathering crowd. That plan, it turned out, was not the plan, or at least not in full. After the rangy Arafat Sello, head of communications for Johannesburg, yelled out the now depressingly familiar slogans—“Down with xenophobia, down”, “Forward United States of Africa, forward”—it became clear that we were to march to the men’s hostel at the end of the drag.

That seemed unwise for several reasons, the most urgent being that some really bad dudes live in the joint, and they’d likely consider this an act of war.

“Where are they going?” asked an older gentleman who gave his name as Samuel. After I described our itinerary, he shook his head. “Write this down in your book: it’s not a good idea to walk to the hostel,” he said. “They’re going to be violent, these guys. They make it look like a Zulu thing, but it’s just a few guys. They”—by which he meant the EFF—“think they are fixing. They’re not.”

“Tell them to write a letter,” added a second man. “Not like this.”

_MG_1770

Photo: Residents of the Alexandra men’s hostel look at the EFF march against xenophobia. Minutes later, shots were fired from a window of the hostel into the EFF crowd, injuring one person. (Greg Nicolson)

Unheeding, the EFF rally chanted across the road from the hostel, othering all of those inside. As I stood dutifully scribbling Samuel’s words into my notebook, I heard the pop of gunfire. I looked up and saw muzzle flashes from one of the high windows, and heard four more shots. Screaming. Mayhem. Angry sloganeering. The crowd reared back, and I soon learned that a Fighter had been hit in the leg. Fellow Fighters formed a protective circle around him, shielding him from the media. He seemed rather nonchalant about the whole thing, despite the gaping hole in his khaki slacks.

IMG_1302

Photo: The man injured when shots were fired from the hostel is taken for care. He was shot in the leg. (Greg Nicolson)

The Cops, you ask? Clearly you haven’t been paying attention these past few weeks. A compromised ballot box brought out an armed force that could take down ISIS. A thug shooting indiscriminately into a crowd didn’t summon so much as a patrol car. An ambulance did eventually show up, and it carted the injured man away. Count that as a small victory against the forces of all-consuming Chaos.

Battle-stunned, the Fighters made their way back toward the women’s hostel, until a Silver Mercedes van roared down the street. Out jumped the CiC, along with commissars Dali Mpofu and Mbuyiseni Ndlozi. They stood on the back of bakkie, as dusk descended on the township. The CiC slammed his way through a passionate speech that was half a cry for African unity, and half a campaign stop on the long road to Mahlamba Ndlopfu.

_MG_1833

Photo: Young men on a rooftop watch EFF leader Julius Malema address his supporters in Alexandra. (Greg Nicolson)

Wearing a grey hoodie, faded blue jeans and a red beret, Malema got right to it. “When you arrived here [in Alex], you arrived in a township that was established by force, in order for the people to be closer to work. But you kill a fellow African because African life is cheap!”

He reminded the crowd of the non-existent line between xenophobia and criminality, and implored them to take back the streets. “These borders are not our borders,” he yelled. “These borders are imposed on us by the colonisers. I have come here to plead with you. There is no Zulu king telling you to kill people. The King has never said that. He is just speaking against criminals.” Following that piece of gentle sophistry, he got down to business. “No Zimbabwean has taken your job. You want a job, go to Luthuli House. Take every Zimbabwean back to Zimbabwe, and you will still be unemployed. You can kill all the people of Zimbabwe, and you will still die in poverty.”

And then the kicker: “Your problem is the ANC.”

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Photo: EFF leader Julius Malema salutes his supporters in Alex on Monday. (Greg Nicolson)

The anti-xenophobia rally now devolved—or, rather evolved—into a campaign rally, because in South Africa the election cycle never ends. Showing significant moxy, Malema and his crew walked into the streets of Alex, and we followed him into warrens of zinc that lead us into the homes of two gogos. It was a splendid show: the son of a shack returning to the sounds and smells of his Limpopo childhood, folding himself onto a small seat and speaking with the dazzled owner about the issues of the day.

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Photo: An EFF member protests xenophobia after the EFF’s Julius Malema had left the area on Monday. (Greg Nicolson)

After half an hour of this, the CiC got back into his van and tore off. Alexandra after a political event still keeps the buzz, but it eventually dies down, and the bustle of normal life returns. Normal life in Alexandra is normal life in most communities in South Africa—folks just getting by one way or another.

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Photo: A young girl holds a sign protesting against xenophobia after the EFF’s Julius Malema had left the area on Monday. (Greg Nicolson)

“We are a peaceful people,” Malema said. But that isn’t true. The hatred is always there; it never goes away, it cannot be rallied into negligibility. It’s a self-hatred that manifests as hatred of the other; it’s mass suicide dressed up as mass murder. That said, it is easily tapped, easily used, and makes for some splendid photo-ops. DM

Main photo: The EFF’s Mbuyiseni Ndlozi, Julius Malema and Dali Mpofu lead supporters on a short tour of Alexandra against xenophobia. (Greg Nicolson)

South Africa xenophobic attacks on Africans

Daily Maverick

South Africa: The place of shame, violence and disconnect

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“South Africans are generally not xenophobic”, President Jacob Zuma said in Parliament on Thursday. What are we generally? Complacent? Angry? Fed up? Who knows what the true state of this nation is. However our default position whenever we are under pressure is to resort to violence. It is our thing. Like the French are known for romance and the British are known for being snooty. We are defined by violence – from the roads to our homes to the streets to Parliament and to our bedrooms. We came from violence and we always go back to it. And for as long as violence is our means of engagement, something extraordinary needs to happen to heal our nation. By RANJENI MUNUSAMY.

On Thursday morning, the office of the National Police Commissioner issued a media statement announcing the activation nationally of joint operational centres to “coordinate response to unrest”. Speaking in Parliament later in the day, Home Affairs Minister Malusi Gigaba, referred to “flashpoints” he and other government officials had visited. “Unrest” and “flashpoints” were part of the South African lexicon in the 80s and early 90s. It was the time when a low-intensity civil war was raging, and political violence and bloodshed were part of our daily lives.

And so we are back to what we were, a nation with unrest and flashpoints. A country where mobs sharpen their machetes and vow to kill in front of a wall of riot policemen poised to fire. That was the image of Apartheid South Africa. Now it is the image of post-democracy South Africa.

President Jacob Zuma is credited with being one of the leaders who negotiated the peace deal in KwaZulu-Natal that saw those words and images fade away. He knows what it takes to stop marauding, bloodthirsty mobs from wreaking havoc. And he knows that a heavy police presence is only a temporary solution when people are on a campaign of violence.

Brokering a cessation of violence is one of the things Zuma can do. He knows it takes a multi-pronged approach that involves going to the ground, listening to grievances, disarming those perpetrating violence and mapping a way forward that everyone involved commits to. Zuma wrote the manual on how that is done, and for that reason was dispatched to other parts of Africa to assist in peace processes.

And yet the outbreak and spread of xenophobic violence in different parts of KwaZulu-Natal and Gauteng is being dealt with as if it is a service delivery protest or labour dispute that a heavy police deployment can deal with.

It cannot. This is violence with the intention to kill and destroy lives.

The attacks against foreign nationals have been described as “corrective violence”. Like with “corrective rape”, it is a forceful means to take matters into your own hands and attempt to change what you do not approve of. In the swirl of commentary and analysis to try to understand the xenophobic attacks, it is suggested that “corrective violence” is the means frustrated South Africans are using to rid their areas of crime and drug abuse and chasing away foreigners who take away their jobs and economic opportunities.

After years of unemployment, poverty and crime reaching endemic proportions, with no relief coming from those in authority, people are taking matters into their own hands, driven by anger and desperation. It is this what has caused people to lose their humanity and resort to violence their means of engagement.

How then would heavier policing defuse such a situation? Who should be listening to, understanding the desperation, and providing the long-term solution?

A special debate in Parliament was a good gesture to demonstrate that everyone from the president to leaders of all political parties were concerned by the xenophobic attacks and were willing to address the matter publicly. While there were many, many words of condemnation against the attacks, and a hefty dose of finger pointing as to why they were happening, the parliamentary debate will have no effect in stopping the violence.

It is the symptom of the very disconnect that has brought us to the point where ordinary people believe that nobody is listening and nobody cares. While the debate on the attacks on foreign nationals was in progress in Parliament, a mob of people was trying to attack the peace march in Durban against xenophobia. These were South Africans wanting to attack other South Africans demonstrating their opposition to violence against other Africans.

Had the police not held off the mob, including through firing water canons at them, what would have happened had they reached the City Hall where the march of about 3,000 people ended? Would there have been another parliamentary debate to condemn the chaos and possible loss of life that would have occurred? How would the reign of terror stop?

During the debate, Economic Freedom Fighters leader Julius Malema said the state had taught South Africans that violence was the only way to deal with issues. He cited police killing people at Marikana and in service delivery protests, and his party being forcibly removed from the National Assembly during the State of the Nation Address as examples of this.

Perhaps that may be true, but violence is deeply embedded into the fabric of our society. Violence was used to fight the unjust system of Apartheid and by the former regime to suppress the struggle. The democratic state is mimicking the Apartheid state, again to suppress opposition. And people now use violence against others in the belief they are also fighting a just cause.

Violence is also used as a means to take what does not belong to us, to demonstrate that we have the right of way, the right to violate other people’s bodies and to demand attention.

When we can’t spill blood, we spill shit. When we are done burning tyres, we burn people.

It is all part of the dialect of this tormented nation.

United Democratic Movement leader Bantu Holomisa said greed, corruption and disrespect for the rule of law was rampant in our society, and while poverty was endemic, leaders were interested in lining their pockets. Freedom Front Plus MP Corne Mulder said there was an “evil spirit” running around the country and there were no positive values. African Christian Democratic Party leader Kenneth Meshoe said South Africans need anger management and to pray. Democratic Alliance parliamentary leader Mmusi Maimane said “our humanity is slipping away from us”.

Zuma spoke of new measures to better regulate migration and the deployment of the security cluster and economic departments to deal with the problems.

But who is going to go to the streets and townships to tell those brandishing weapons, assaulting people and looting shops to stop what they are doing? Who will stop the fear and loathing in communities? Who is going to realise the great disconnect between those in leadership and the people on the ground who would not have the benefit of listening to the parliamentary debate?

It came to this precisely because of the disconnect. Leaders across society become separated from the people they serve and therefore get shocked when they go on a rampage. South Africa is the shame of the continent and a deviant of the world, and will continue being so until it changes its culture and values.

Xenophobia, unrest and flashpoints will not go away unless there is a serious national effort to address the multiple collision of problems – the failure of leadership, the economic decline, crime, corruption, abuse and the lack of humanity, decency and values.

South Africa needs to be defined by something new, something better, something that will give us a reason to believe once more. We need hope in time of hopelessness. We need leadership in leaderless years. We need to feel our humanity, we need to feel our goodness. This angry violent nation needs to emerge from the shame of being amongst the wretched of the earth. It might be difficult to see it right now, but we, South Africans, deserve better. DM

Photo: Local South African men dance and sing as they call for foreign shop owners to leave the area after xenophobic violence in the area in Actonville, Johannesburg, South Africa, 16 April 2015. Police searched the mens hostels for weapons used by local South African men against foreign African’s after five people have been killed during recent xenophobia attacks that started in Durban. EPA/KIM LUDBROOK